In the early days of my blog, I mentioned the warm perfusion preservation technique, ex-vivo. Yet, this advance & the technology is not available to all patients & all centers just yet. Also, not all organs can ideally be preserved via a warm perfusion method. Others actually benefit from what’s called cold perfusion, or essentially to “be on ice”. Which was typically the way all organs were preserved up until ex-vivo technology came to be a reality or looked at as a possible option.
Yet, the cold storage preservation methods are not perfected yet either.
It looks like that new advances in the cold perfusion method are well underway, though. I found this Eureka alert release very fascinating & equally promising.
Cold perfusion does have drawbacks, potential cell damage being one of them. But this highlighted cold perfusion advance, called vitrification, eliminates the cell damage potential & several other issues commonly related to icing organs. It’s essentially in layman’s terms an ice-free way to keep organs cold & preserved.
This PLOS one research paper is a bit science-y for some but worth a read, just to see how this discovery was made & how it actually works.
Kidneys are one such organ that typically use cold perfusion methods, but this recently published journal article abstract does show the potential for vitrification to be of benefit.
For further reading on the process itself, there’s also this interesting BBC article & this article from The Scientist Magazine, As well as this article from the The New Scientist & this item from Wired that shows that possibly “organ banking” like blood banking may be a reality stemming from this method. Which could also lead to more organs being able to be kept viable for longer periods of time than what current windows allow for.
The first 2 articles are from 2014 & 2013. They both speculated about how real or impactful this future advancement would be. Even though they are dated, they offer interesting tidbits of information & historical context.
(Although, I will say I do not agree with The Scientist Magazine’s references to harvest/harvesting. I feel like a scientific magazine should use the proper scientific word which is procurement.) The Scientist article mainly spoke about this preservation method in animal models.